Thursday, January 05, 2006

When You're in an Orphanage ...

I have not yet introduced my blog readers to a new friend of ours in Yaounde, Ryan. Probably because I haven’t found the right words to describe him.

Energetic? Nah, that’s too weak a word. Dynamic? Bursting with charisma? Relentless? Lucky?
All of those and more. And also a lot of fun.

He’s only been in Cameroon for about four months now. He initially arrived to work at an orphanage in Yaounde as a missionary from the Episcopal Church, but after having been there for a couple of months, he grew increasingly disgusted by the living conditions, child abuse, etc. So he decided … what the heck, why not start his own orphanage?

Leah and I were frankly a little skeptical of this plan. But step by step, he seems to be making it work. He even found the perfect large house to rent in the Essos neighborhood of Yaounde. It’s been hard work for him, simply trying to jump through the legal hoops and maneuver between corrupt government officials, but so far, so good.

We spent Christmas Eve at his new place. He only has a handful of kids living there at the moment, but he wanted them to have a joyous Christmas. And they did! We shared a large Cameroonian meal of fish, chicken, plantains, salad and bread. We contributed some standard American fare – chili and macaroni and cheese.

Rachel went to the store and bought six toy cell phones – a favorite child’s toy here. Ryan included them in the Santa gifts the next morning and told us they were a big hit! Later in the week, the girls sat and culled their excessive shoe collection … we took a big bag of shoes to the orphanage and the kids went crazy, pulling out flip-flops, tennis shoes, and high heels!

We told Ryan that we wanted to help him in his efforts, but up to now, we haven’t been sure how the Mission could assist. That is … until last week.

We received a financial report from our headquarters and discovered that a church had made a large donation to the Mission … designated for work with orphans! We were shocked, because we hadn’t even requested such a gift. We haven’t shared this need with anyone yet.
But First United Methodist Church, Coppell, for some reason, collected over $2,000 bucks and decided that an orphanage in Cameroon needed it.

And it does!

A carpenter is now at work building ten triple-bunk-beds for a house on the other side of town, where a guy named Ryan is trying to make a bunch of kids very happy.

Thank you, FUMC Coppell ... and thank you, Lord!